11 things to know before coming to China

That's it, you have your Chinese visa in your pocket, you are ready to cross the border. Completely ready, are you sure?

Small experience feedback on the silly things we learned during our stay and that we believe is useful to know, before arriving in China (on foot, of course!)

To do before returning to the country:

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and all other Google apps are blocked in China. Before entering China, create a account Yahoo Mail and forward your mails there, it costs nothing and can be useful if no VPN is working (this has happened to me several times, whether it is a paid VPN or not).
  2. If you are using a Smartphone: download the application Maps.Me and the map of China with the itineraries (248Mb). There are a little less routes than on Google maps, but you can do offline routes!


  3. To chat with Chinese people (don't count on them to speak English!), download the application Pleco. This is a good English / Chinese dictionary (in addition to learning Chinese you will be revising your English!). And by downloading an additional plugin, free, the Chinese will be able to write and you will have a word-for-word translation of the ideograms. It gives an average translation, but it's better than nothing and it livened up our evenings more than once!


  4. WeChat : another application to download to communicate. Most people who live in China, Chinese or not, use it and will ask for your account. It allows you to call and send free text messages as soon as you have an Internet connection. Useful to keep in touch!


  5. On Android Smartphone: Google Play does not work without VPN. Remember to download all the necessary applications before returning!
  6. BUT ! To counter all this, VPNs are your friends! It took a long time to find the right VPNs that work.
    For Android Smartphones, download the application now fqrouter2. It's super simple and it works great! Sorry on the other hand, it only works on Android ...
    If you have a computer ... The free VPNs we tried were insufficient. As a paid VPN you have Astrill which is very good. But if like us, you are a little tight-fisted, we have a solution for you! If you have a friend who has a Freebox in France (he has Free, he understood everything ... uh anyway!), You can use it to make a VPN by tweaking a little !
    In short, despite these VPN tips, that does not prevent you from doing steps 1 to 5 before entering the country. If something doesn't work as expected, you'll be happy!

Once there

  1. Withdraw money: only Bank of China et ICBC accept European credit cards. And these banks are only found in large cities. Other banks ask for a 6-digit code. We were told that it was possible to add 00 after its pin code (example: your code is 1234, type 123400). But we tried, it didn't work.
    In these two banks, the maximum possible amount is usually ¥ 2,500 or ¥ 3,000 (€ 400-450 in May 2015)
  2. You say to yourself “Hey, in China, it's going to be cheaper buy yourself a Smartphone !”. Very bad idea! It may be blocked only for China (3G network incompatible with Europe, find out more), the Chinese version of Android blocks the ability to install google applications including the PlayStore. Patches released have tested for you… It was a real pain!
  3. If you use sites like Openrunner to see the drops in China: don’t stress! It uses google maps which are staggered from 200 to 400m in the field: suddenly it gives you anything! Elevations of 15-20%, mind-blowing totals ... That gives a general idea, but that's all, don't look at the detail!
    So, also be careful if you are given GPS coordinates from Google maps: it will not correspond to the right place on your GPS!
    Small example of elevation:

    Screenshot 2015-05-08 at 08.58.21

    Slopes> 15% more than half the time… Impressive, right? In reality, an average slope of 4-5%, very gentle!

  4. To visit a country, it is always good to know some words.
    - Hello: ni hao (pronounced: New Year's Eve)
    – Merci: xie xie (Sié sié or Shit shit)
    - You're welcome: Bú kèqi (Pou kéchi)
    - Goodbye: zai jian (Djaille djianne), but even between them they also simply use the “bye bye”.
    - How much does it cost? : duo shao qian (Douo chao chian)
    - France / french: fa guo (fa guo or fa gua, depending on the region)
    - Toilets: this shuo (spend)
    - Manger: what does it do
    – Boire: he shui
    – Dormir: shui jiao
    - Yes: Toue (Toué)
    - Name: Mei yo (Meillo)
  5. Counting with hands. The Chinese are not like us, they count to ten with one hand!
    1 一 (yi): the index finger (not the thumb! That would mean “ok”)
    2 二 (er) : index + major
    3 三 (san): index + middle finger + ring finger OR middle finger + ring finger + little finger
    4 四 (b): index + middle finger + ring finger + little finger
    5 五 (wu): the five fingers
    It's after that it gets complicated ...
    6 六 (liu): thumb + little finger
    7 seven (qi: prononcez tchi): thumb + index + middle finger touching
    8 八 (ba): thumb + index (as we will do 2, beware of misunderstandings!)
    9 nine (jiu prononcez tjiou): thumb and index finger in the shape of a “hook”
    10 十 (shi): the only one with both hands: we cross the two indexes to make an X, like a Roman 10, or we show our fist with one hand!

Other cyclists have illustrated this perfectly! Thank you Asiemutes !

Screenshot 2015-05-08 to 08.05.28

In pictures, it's easier!

Thanks to David Benthley, Australian cyclist who gave us some of this advice before we entered the country! Take care David and have a good trip!

Has this page been useful to you? Let us know in the comments below!
And feel free to add your own travel tips for China.